Johnson’s Last Days
He’s spinning it out isn’t he? A potent brew of hubris, ego and exceptionalism have sustained Boris Johnson through the train-wreck of his time in office, a period that as we look back makes poor Theresa May’s look truly ‘strong and stable’.
I mean he’s not doing it on his own. There are only seventeen Tory MPs that have had the guts or sense to put a letter in to the 1922 Committee, the arcane constitutionally incoherent process by which we are governed.
As the No 10 rats flee the ship the regime change looks less and less orderly and more and more like a dash for the exits. By Friday Elena Narozanski, Boris Johnson’s special adviser on women and equalities, was the latest to resign, though you have to wonder what she was doing in that post in the first place.
Narozanski’s departure followed the resignation of four key No 10 officials on Thursday: policy chief, Munira Mirza; chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield; the PM’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds; and director of communications, Jack Doyle. Mirza abruptly resigned on Thursday afternoon after Johnson again declined to apologise for attempting to smear the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, over the case of the paedophile Jimmy Savile.
Munira Mirza in particular is a blow for Johnson. She has been a close advisor for years. She has an ‘interesting past’. As Bob from Brockley revealed on Bella in 2019:
“This week it was announced that Munira Mirza would be joining new prime minister Boris Johnson’s team as head of Number 10’s policy unit. Mirza, mis-identifed by the Independent as “an academic at King’s College London” (her actual job there is running their “cultural strategy”), was Johnson’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Education during his City Hall tenure. Last month, the new crop of Brexit Party MEPs taking up their well-paid if “stupid” jobs in Brussels included Claire Fox, professional BBC talking head with a reputation as a contrarian libertarian Regular readers will know what Mirza and Fox have in common: they are both long-term members of the network that emerged out of the Revolutionary Communist Party and its magazine Living Marxism (LM). I’ve written before about the LM/RCP network, best known today for its web magazine Spiked, and this post draws together some of that material given the party’s importance in our current, Brexit political moment.”
It’s confusing I know, but the shorthand is that the (supposed/not really) far-left libertarians went all round the political spectrum and met with the (yes/really) far-right libertarians and found they had much in common. In this sense Mirza’s extraordinary rise to power, and her recent descent marks the end of a period where the Brexit Crisis threw up allegiances and collaborations by some of the darkest forces in England’s political underworld.
This may be the end of the Revolutionary Conservative period. As government is hauled down (again) in Northern Ireland we are in a loop. The Unionist parties in Northern Ireland are acutely aware of their own precarious position but seem unable to process logical thought. Having been pivotal in manufacturing Brexit they have no idea how to cope with its inevitable consequences. Their latest actions are simply constitutional self-mutilation.
Britain is being destroyed by the people who identify as its protectors and champions. This is both strange and hilarious.
Back to the rats.
While Rishi Sunak is now wobbling with treacherous intent, some of the Tories know deep down that the prospects of a Hedge-Fund multi-millionaire administering the ‘cost of living’ cuts that are coming down may not be a survivable experience.
In Britain crisis mount on crisis and the idea that THIS was the steady-state, the rock that we should cling to in 2014 is beyond parody.
Britain in 2022 is like living in an abandoned building with collapsing floorboards and ceilings caving-in while being forced to pretend that this is completely normal.
Such is the nature of the current predicament a number of fantasies have to be maintained. The first is that England/Britain has been under the thumb of the terrible EU, an institution that has been holding us back from our manifold destiny. The second is that – once released from this capture ‘we ‘ will be triumphant (once more) – Sunny Uplands beckon twinkling on the horizon. This both projects forward and evokes an imagined past. Within and parallel to these delusions there are internal fantasies. One of which is that the north part of Britain (aka Scotland) is innately and forever impoverished and sustained only by the benevolence of the southern part of Britain (aka England). This set of relations is as the result of a Glorious Union lasting hundreds of years which has to be described in semi-mythical terms. Nobody can explain the reason for these relations but is is just an accepted fact. Scotland is therefore both burden and beneficiary. It’s eternal bankruptcy and deficiency is the direct consequence of the Union for which it should be eternally grateful. Finally another internal fantasy is that we have common bonds and cultures that are immutable, and that to suggest otherwise is some kind of treason or ‘othering’. Any expression of difference is intolerable.
And yet, all of this true but why are we not fleeing the Union with as much speed and fervour as Johnson’s SPADS and advisers?
One reason is outlined by James Foley in a piece for Conter this week (‘The Scottish Ideology‘). In it he challenges the Scottish Government’s failing on poverty, green jobs and self rule and writes:
“Sturgeonism is unimaginable without these rebellious energies. Yet her governing philosophy is, formally, the opposite. It is rooted in the professional-managerial class, a group who trade on radical pretensions but invariably emerge as crusaders for the status quo. While they might favour a well-designed governance agenda for “engaging communities”, their aims are anti-populist and counter-majoritarian: harm-reduction, consensus-building, top-down behaviour modification. They are terrified by any political mobilisation that is not well-policed, NGO-led and corporate sponsored.
Holyrood’s hypocrisies would be laughable without these class compromises. Yet those who should hold government accountable – on class, climate, and hell, even on race and gender – are either compromised by their unionist baggage or dependent on the wheels of patronage. Everyone looks to Holyrood for national leadership which it cannot provide. Accountability is non-existent. The worst thing about Scotland’s grievances with Westminster is that many of them are well-founded in fact. And that fact of Westminster’s “badness” means we easily ignore the meagreness of our own accomplishments.”
All of this seems true. Yet it is also true that, almost £600m is being spent each year on policies related to reserved matters, according to the Scottish Government.
We live ruled by two governments, one we elect and one we cannot elect. The first has not enough powers and not enough ideological direction, the other has all of the powers but is driven by forces we barely understand. As the period of Revolutionary Conservatism comes to an end we must change the dynamic, change the narrative and force ourselves into the story.